4 Steps to Voting for the Right Councilor

The Green Connection strives towards empowering communities to have a voice in decision making towards sustainable local economies. It is important to share your voice about climate change and your right to a healthy environment. You have a right to vote for the party that wants to stop offshore oil and gas development. If you want to make sure that your vote goes to supporting environmental justice, then you need to start by finding out what your local political representative believes about climate change and what they intend to do about it. To find more information, read the following steps.

The first step is to know where you live because this will tell you what your “ward number” is.

So for example, if you live in Cape Town, you can find out your ward number by going to the City of Cape Town’s website. Look for the “Find your councillor ward or sub council” page and then click on the City Map Viewer link. Then you have to agree to the terms and conditions about 3 or 4 times (!) and thereafter, if loadshedding doesn’t happen, you will see a map with a little search box at the top. Enter your address into that box and it will show you some base data layers. Ignore these. Instead go to the top green bar, on which there’s a little identify button, labelled “I” (for Identify).

Click on the button to access a whole menu on what services and other information is available in your area. This will give you your ward number. Then go to “Results” in the menu section below the map, click on the “Links” button to find a very helpful page with your ward councillor’s contact details, including their email address and telephone numbers.

However, a problem arises if this ward councillor is not running as a candidate in the upcoming elections. Now, the second step, is to find out who is contesting in your ward. For example, you can find this information in your local newspaper or you can also use the rather slow IEC website to find your ward’s contesting candidates. Alternatively https://mycandidate.opencitieslab.org/ provides a great way to find out your ward and candidates.

Next is step three. This third step is crucial because here you determine what these candidates – the people running to lead and make decisions about your ward – have as their priorities. Are they currently supporting the disinvestment in fossil fuel activities? What is their stance on climate change? How do they intend to ensure meaningful inclusion of the people’s voices, like those of our coastal communities?

In order to find that out, you need to contact them. You can write an email to the candidate you want to vote for. For example, asking the following, “What is your position on development of an offshore oil and gas industry in South Africa? Climate change is going to impact us all and I expect my leaders to be far more proactive in terms of supporting the long-term sustainability of our Earth. How do you intend to protect the livelihoods and include the views of small-scale fishers, who are directly impacted by offshore oil and gas development and climate change?”

Remember: You can also phone these candidates. Their job is to hear your interests, as you are a member of the voting public. Better still, you can gather a group of like-minded people and visit your candidate personally.

The final step: JUST DO IT. Go out on 1 November and make your vote count by voting for the candidate who has both your (and your community) and our Earth’s best interests at heart.